Lee Pitts: Good Night
I hear that architects are putting porches back on houses these days, although they have no idea why. Mostly for decoration I’d say. Country folks know why, because when the day is worn out…and so are they…the porch is the best seat in the house. You don’t have to buy a ticket or a new dress to see a sunset.
I’m not sure that porches will work in the big city, it’s just too darn noisy. Besides, you’re a better target for a drive-by shooting. Sunset is supposed to be the hour of calm but city sounds are so unsettling. Car alarms go off constantly, grating on the nerves like a chain saw on a pipe but nobody pays any attention and so the burglars are free to do their after-hours shopping under cover of darkness. Back fire, gun fire, a scream in the dead of night.
When the rural sun sets at least you can see it. In the city when the sun and moon trade places a clear moonlit night may be obliterated by big buildings and bad air that’s not fit to breathe. Better go hide in the house.
Porch sitters know that no matter how bad the day a good night can still save it. Nighttime reminds us that there are degrees of darkness. As the sun sets our spirits rise but in the city the night can actually be more stressful than the day. Citified sunsets are filled with sounds of neighbors fighting, planes landing, beepers beeping, phones ringing, cars leaving rubber and trucks leaving town. Blaring boom boxes belt out music that would drive a wolf to commit suicide.
Beyond the city limits nature makes the music if there’s any to be made. A calf calls for its mom, she answers back and you can almost hear them pairing up. If only it were so in the city. Country stillness is audible. Wind rustles through the trees, hoot owls give a hoot, lambs bawl and bugs buzz. Crickets chirp, not talking heads on television. Inside a weather man warns about the “threat” of rain while outside the coyote’s report is more reliable. If he wails it’s going to pour, a shout and it will be dry. But you have to be wise enough to know the difference.
The rocking chair is still the best place to fall asleep during the decline of the day. But urban bedclothes are not made for paddling around on the porch. Thirsty mosquitoes find perfume and night gear from Victoria’s Secret very enticing, even if your husband doesn’t. Which brings up another point: evening porch time used to be for courtin’ but we have somehow skipped that phase of falling in love. Too bad too, for those were some of the best hours of our lives.
City folks are always worried about their “night life.” But it really isn’t necessary to be doing anything as the air is being let out of the day. Evenings were made for solitude, cud chewing, swatting bugs, whittling, crocheting, cooling off and winding down. Conversation is usually limited to grunts and yawns. We just naturally know when it’s time for bed, we don’t need a curfew.
Missing sunsets is not city folks fault I guess. They have to live where there’s a living. But sometimes I wonder if inner peace wouldn’t be just as good as a bigger piece of the pie. When the sun and moon are trading places and tomorrow is turning into today the sun going down reminds us all that this day is gone forever. We take it for granted that the sun is shining on the other side of night but we ought to be enjoying life like this was our last sunset.
Go sit on the porch. Someday it will be.